Tuesday 31 May 2011

My little garden in Japan may 2011

It is the end of May and I almost forgot to do the monthly update, so just to finish the month here is how my garden is doing. Most plants are doing great, all the vegetables are growing like crazy and many of the other plants are getting new leaves.


Summer is here

With summer so close, a lot of the winter flowers are starting to fade. The flowerboxes are starting to look a bit shaggy and dull. I think is time I take away the pansies from the flowerbox and get new flowers for this season. The good part is that many of the summer flowers are starting to bloom. The calla lily has been flowering since a couple weeks ago, the same for the lavender. The dahlia just started blooming, the survivor chocolate cosmos also has some buttons and the zempasuchitl is right behind. All summer flowers are ready to go.


All the summer flowers are ready to go

The tomatoes are already growing fruit, and they keep growing more and more. If I don’t check on them just one day, they go away from the trellis. They are certainly unruly, but I am sure the tomatoes will be worth it.


The first tomatoes of the season

The strawberries are a bit worrisome, they still don’t have any blooms. I was expecting some all this month but so far nothing. I hope they didn't waste all their energy back at April with the vacation drought. Not much I can do but wait.

The blueberries are getting bigger every day. Since they flowered in the windy days, I was afraid I would not get much fruit, but it seems a lot of them made it. I am glad that the assisted pollination worked. Now I just have to hope the birds don't decide to take them away.


Delicious blueberries

The only bad news is the red rose. It got sick since I went to Mexico, and despite my best efforts I doesn't seem to be getting better. It had some flower buds but it dropped them, along with all the leaves, now is just a couple of sticks that keep getting more and more yellow every day. I think I will have to say good bye and get a new one, but I still have a little hope.

With all the plants growing so much, I need to keep pruning very diligently or the balcony will become a jungle very fast. It is definitely the start of summer at My little balcony.

Friday 27 May 2011

How to make lemon balm & mint tea

I apologize for the lack of posts lately. It has been a very busy and tiring couple of weeks. To start again with the blog, I want to share a little recipe that I found very useful to cope with all the stress.

Just the other day, I had a lot of things to do but I needed to recharge, so I sat at the balcony for a little while. Then while I was contemplating my garden, it hit me, I should make some lemon balm tea. I have mid size lemon balm that keeps growing like crazy and I had never really taken advantage of it. Lemon balm is a great aid to fight stress and relax, it was just perfect. So, I got the scissors and snip some branches and made me some tea.


Harvesting some herbs from the garden for tea

This is one of the reasons I like gardening so much, all the work you put in it always have a nice reward. Those of you who are thinking about starting a garden, take notice.

Here is my recipe, hope you enjoy it.
You can try making it with just lemon balm, but I enjoy the extra fresh flavor that mint adds to the recipe.

Lemon balm and mint tea

  • 10 fresh lemon balm sprigs
  • 5 fresh lemon mint sprigs
  • 4 cups of water
  • Honey

Making the tea

First get the water to a boil. Take your sprigs and break and fold them with your hands (no knife), this will help the oils get released. Then toss them in the boiling water for around 10 minutes. The longer you leave them the stronger the flavor will be, but, take care not to leave them to long because lemon balm is sensitive to over boiling, it gets a bitter flavor and loses the lemony scent. While they are boiling the water should will get a yellowish color and the scent will be very noticeable. I like leaving some of the leafs behind, but you can you can strain if you don’t want leafs on your drink. Add as much honey as you want and you are done. Enjoy your hot drink!


Delicious and relaxing lemon balm & mint tea

Now, I grew up in a place where 40 °C is considerate normal, so I tend to prefer cold drinks. If you are like me, just wait a little and add ice. The cold will take away a bit of the flavor, but you can crush the leaves more to get it back. And you are done, enjoy you cold and relaxing drink!

Other thing to remember, Lemon balm is also great to help digestion, and so is mint. So, in case you have upset stomach or you are feeling uneasy at the belly, give this tea a try.

Sunday 15 May 2011

Happy blooming day!

It has been a rainy week here in my little garden in japan, but this weekend we finally got some sun and the flowers are really grateful. Almost all of the plants are flowering, the only one left is the calla lily and the dahlia, but I am sure they will have a couple blooms soon.


Happy blooming day!



The osteospermum hasn't stopped blooming at all

The anemones finally recovered completely from the drought and are showing a very nice display. The chocolate cosmos, which I had already tossed away until I noticed new growth from the roots, resurged and have kept on growing.


The dill is flowering like crazy


The kalanchoe is all out too

Even some of the herbs are flowering, the thyme, the dill and rosemary have little flowers and the lavender is starting to form flower buds.


The mini rose is blooming already and the red rose will be very soon


The geraniums look great

As the summer approaches some of the annuals are starting slow down and start to fade. I will probably have to do a renewal of some of the flower boxes next month, but for now they all get to give a last bloom.


summer will be here soon


Enjoy many other bloggers showing their blooms at blooming day from May Dreams Gardens!

Please help japan with a donation or good thoughts.

Help Japan

My best hope for those in Japan. You can help donate here.

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Donation For Japan Earthquake 11th March 2011
American Red Cross
International Medical Corps
Donate with Paypal

Tuesday 10 May 2011

Seedlings and sproutings

Even though spring had arrived to Tokyo since last month, it was still a little cold. But not any more, May has brought us warmer temperatures, which are great for having the seeds sprout. Over the past week almost all of the seeds and bulbs I had on the ground started coming out. It is great seeing the garden growing like that, I can't wait to see them all developed.


All the seeds just sprouted!

The first seeds to take off were the komatsuna and the bekana. Those are some of the strongest greens I know, they always sprout very fast and easy. I even have to take care or they overrun the lettuces completely when I put them on the same planter.

On the veggie planters all of the companion plants are out and growing. I sowed some basil and zempazuchitl to go along with the tomatoes and to go along the greens, I planted some beans. They all seem to be doing well, specially the flowers, which already are on their second set of leaves.


This basil was given to me by Diana

Also, the seeds I got from Diana from Kebun Malay-Kadazan girls are sprouting. I put all of the flowers on one same pot, so I am not sure which ones are what, but I am sure they will all grow nicely.

To add to my bulbs basket I got a very nice dahlia, which I plant right between the tulips. It just came out of the ground at the same time the tulips started to dry off and fade. Also, getting ready for the bulb basket, my calla lily bulbs are growing very well too. Hopefully they will put a nice show, just like last year. I even got some new bulbs on different colors, but they are leftovers and are very small, so I am not sure if they will flower yet.


The second batch of calla lily

The latest to pop out were the pumpkins seeds I collected last Halloween. I was a bit worried because they took too long, so I sowed all of my seeds, now there are so many seedlings, definitely much more than I can grow.

I am still waiting for a couple of chilies, but I trust they will sprout soon. I even have some backup plants that I am not sure I can keep if they all grow successfully.


No idea if these beans will fruit

My only concern now is if the beans and the pumpkins will be able to give fruit. I got all of those seeds by collecting them, and I have no idea if they are hybrids or not. I guess I don’t have a choice but to wait and see.

Also, while we are on the topic of seeds, I wanted to do a giveaway this spring, but now is a bit late in the sowing season. I think, maybe I can still get some seeds in time to those living close. So, anybody living close to Tokyo, please send me an email or a twit.

For those of you who live abroad, I will make a proper giveaway later, just need to sort a couple things around.


The zempazuchitl seedlings are out

I don't have a big quantity, but I do have a good selection of "very hard to find in Japan" seeds. Here is what I have available:

  • Chile ancho
  • Chile pasilla
  • Chile chipotle
  • Chile guajillo
  • Chile poblano
  • Zempazuchitl (mexican marigold)
  • Mexican mixed varieties cactus

And I also have a lot of extra thyme seeds and pumpkin seedlings

If you want to start your garden, or expand your existing one feel free to ask

Please help japan with a donation or good thoughts.

Help Japan

My best hope for those in Japan. You can help donate here.

Google Checkout
Donation For Japan Earthquake 11th March 2011
American Red Cross
International Medical Corps
Donate with Paypal

Friday 6 May 2011

Time to set up the trellis

This week I had a chance to set up the trellis for most of the new climbing crops. I also had to redo the grape one, because, when I moved I had taken it down. Now everything is ready for growing the season. I can't wait to see the tomatoes, beans and pumpkins climbing around.


The "A" structure can hold a lot of weight

I did a different set up for every planter because they will all grow differently. One of the biggest is the big tomato, I think this will need the most support so I tried an A shaped trellis. For the mini tomatoes, a small square one for each will work well. And finally for the beans and pumpkin planter, I did a normal square wall. I hope they will be strong enough to carry everything.


I have always liked this style of japanese trellis and knot

Of course I had to try doing the Japanese style. I used bamboo and japanese knots. I like how it works with trellis, the bamboo looks very nice, and when tied with that knot is very strong and secure. The only thing is that, because the bamboo I use is slim and not processed, it rots easily. So, I can only use it for temporarily structures like these seasonal supports.


I am hoping to see this little fence covered with plants by summer

Now for the grape, because it has to be a permanent structure, I used metal/plastic rods. Since my grape is only on its first year and is still very young, not much strength is required yet to hold it.


Four pilars should hold everything nicely if they have a good knot

I set four pillars and two rods joining them in across to secure all. However, in the future, when the grapevine gains more weight I will add two more rods across at the middle level for extra strength.


With a little time, it will fill up all around

Thank you very much to those who asked about the grape structure! I hope this helps

Please help japan with a donation or good thoughts.

Help Japan

My best hope for those in Japan. You can help donate here.

Google Checkout
Donation For Japan Earthquake 11th March 2011
American Red Cross
International Medical Corps
Donate with Paypal
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